I’m in Spain at the moment, taking a well-earned rest from the daily grind. For the first time in years, I’ve come away from London without my Macbook Pro. I’m probably in the minority of people who bring a laptop on holiday, but to be honest, I normally feel naked without it! On holiday, I use it to catch up on news, watch tv via iTunes and download podcasts to transfer onto my iPhone. It’s also great for keeping in touch with people back home and for backing up travel photos and even posting them on Facebook.
This month, I thought I’d experiment with the iPad and leave the Macbook Pro at home. So I assembled a travel kit, including my bluetooth keyboard and new Belkin case for the iPad, as well as a charging cable.
Straight off, it was a different experience. For a start, as the iPad is still so new, I got lots of interested glances from other passengers at City Airport before I even left London. But it’s also much lighter and the instant-on aspect of the iPad means it’s something I turn to in a whim, a lot like you might use your iPhone. I used the free wifi at the airport to check some email and waste some time on Twitter. While on the flight, I was able to read Wired magazine via their fantastic app and watch a couple of episodes of family guy in iTunes. Cue lots of pointing and whispering from other passengers. (I hope this wears off once more people have an iPad…)
Since I’ve been here, I’ve been able to carry the iPad around in a small messenger bag over my shoulder and haven’t noticed the additional weight at all. It’s been great to be able to whip it out when sitting at a cafe and read a little of my latest iBook purchase or play some Scrabble. In fact, aside from iBooks, Scrabble has been getting more action on the iPad than any other app this week. I’ve never been a big board games fanatic, but Scrabble is simply amazing. And the turn-by-turn play option means you can play with another person and avoid accusations of being anti-social! My other half and I have spent literally hours in the sun battling each other on Scrabble, much to the bemusement of waiters in the local bars.
It hasn’t been all plane sailing however. The great weather here has played havoc with the iPad’s screen. While it’s fine for reading ebooks, any app with predominantly dark colours is really very difficult to read in direct sunlight. And in Mallorca in June, there’s a lot of direct sunlight! The sunlight also emphasises the many fingerprints and smudges on the screen.
In summary though, I’d have to say I’m very happy with the iPad as a travelling companion and don’t miss the Macbook one bit. I’ve been able to download new podcasts directly to my iPhone via wifi and haven’t needed to upload any pictures. I may in the future, so can see myself getting the adaptor kit from Apple to enable this. So while the iPad isn’t a permanent laptop replacement, it’s all I’m going to be bring with me on holidays from now on.